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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

mcbernier

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Posts posted by mcbernier

  1. Have either of you considered either Kant's or Schopenhaur's conception of transcendental/practical freedom. They would appear to be apt choices given that they are the only two philosophers I can think of that make time relative rather then absolute. They put the concepts of God and the soul outside of time much like the pattern, creator, and DO. In this scheme a person could exist in a completely determinate world of cause and effect but at the same time the soul would be outside of time and thus cause and effect and therefore could make entirely free choices that would affect their physical form. In WOT free choice would exist at the level of the person as a thread in the pattern no matter how determinate or circular time is. Schopenhaur would add that since a person can not actively control their subconscious will that their ability to move around in the pattern has some limitations.

    On the practical level of freedom there is the concept of being able to consider what "ought" to be done which has no place in a determinate world where every cause has a fixed effect.

    That is a very quick overview of a long and complicated topic but it is useful to look into given the relativity of time in WOT which is not considered by most Western philosophers.

     

    Howdy. I only have about two minutes to spare, so I hope what I say is coherent. Interesting. I was only attempting to defend a very flat understanding of basic libertarian freedom. But you are right to call attention to other concepts. I don't know Schopenhaur, but I have some knowledge of Kierkegaard's freedom--somewhat radical stuff, actually (the self IS freedom, not just an activity of an agent).

     

    Your suggestion on Kant is interesting, given that time is not metaphysically absolute on his account--it's more a condition for experience. Also, I think Augustine had a conception of the soul as being outside time, and yet able to causally interact with the body.  Well, that's all I have time to add.......

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    The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future.

     

    Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated):

    (1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe"

    (2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?)

    (3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom

    (4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom.

     

    There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning.  But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle.

     

    Not really. "Choices" aren't determined by the people themselves, because there is no choice being made. There is only ever one possibility. If there is only on epossible thing that could happen, you are not choosing to do it, it is merely happening. Now, how can it be known what you will choose before you choose it, known not merely as a strong probability, but as an absolute certainty, as sure as 1+1=2? It can only be known as an absolute certainty if there is no other possibility. 1 and 1 don't discuss amongst themselves whether they equal 2 today, or whether today is the day they will change things up and equal 3. If a train is moving along the tracks and approaches a set of points, if the lever is one way the train goes one way, if the lever is the other way the train goes the other way. Does the train have free will? No. It doesn't choose, it merely goes down the path it must go down. The other set of tracks might give an illusion of choice, but the train makes no actual choice. To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not. Are there variant pasts or presents? Variant futures? If there is only one timeline, and the beginning and end and all the other points along the way are already set, then there is no option to deviate from it. Maybe God could change the points, send things down a new path, but we can't.

     

     

    Your reasoning goes along these lines:

     

    (A) You claim:

    "choices aren't determined by the people themselves, because no choice is being made."

    (B) Why is there no choice being made? Because:

    "There is only ever one possibility."

    © And why is there only one possibility? Because:

    God can't foreknow what you will choose if there is more than one possibility. Everything has to be "determined" before the choice, and it cannot be determined by the person making the choice (paraphrasing).The only way God (or any such being) can know what will happen is if there is only one possible choice. Otherwise, there is no basis for the knowing beforehand.

    (D) But why can't the person be responsible for determining the choice? Because:

    If the choice is not fixed before the choice is made, then God cannot know what the choice will be before it is made. And this is what makes freedom impossible, in light of foreknowledge.

    (E) Therefore:

    If there is a being that has foreknowledge of the future, then our choices are already "pre-determined" and there is no (libertarian) freedom.

    Not quite. There is only one future, God knows what it is. That future is set, and cannot be changed. That means it is impossible to deviate from what must come to pass. If you have two choices, and they are so close that it really could go either way, then up until the choice is made, the future is in flux. Things might go one way, or the might go the other. If the future is not in flux, if in fact the future is set, then all choices made must be the choices that lead toward that future. You might think you could go either way, but you couldn't - if you went the other way, there would be a different future, but as that future did not happen, it therefore cannot happen. All choices that you have yet to make are already made before you make them. And as they are already made, then in the moment of choosing, you are not actually choosing, and therefore lack free will.

    Basically, since you think there is no other explanation for foreknowledge, it follows that freedom would be impossible--the only way to explain foreknowledge is through some sort of comprehensive determinism that fixes choices before they are made. You've denied that a person could determine his choice. It's clear what motivates this claim (the worry over being able to explain foreknowledge), but it is less clear what actually supports it. I think this is what you think supports it (quoting you): "To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not." Obviously, "past," "present," and "future" are terms that refer to moving targets, and even for us the content of past, present, future, is not essentially distinct. These are terms that refer to points of view relative to our position in the timeline. But if God (or some being) were to see history "all at once," does this imply that there is no freedom, as you suggest? No.

    Yes, actually. If the future is determined by choices in the past, then there is no actual future until the choices have been made.

    It doesn't imply the absence of freedom any more than a time traveler seeing the future implies that the people he watches don't have freedom.

    Is the time traveller seeing what might come to pass, or what will come to pass? If it's only a maybe, there exists the possibility of changing it. If there's no maybe, if this is the future, the only possible one, and it must come to pass, then it does mean that there is no free will.

    The time traveler, let's say, witnesses the future, then goes back to his own time and he knows what certain people will choose. God could "see" the future, "looking down the corridors of time," as it were, seeing "the whole at once," seeing everything clearly, but like the time traveler, seeing free choices made in their own respective moments. Why could not a being such as God have this sort of privileged access to time and history? Why must it be as you suggest, that everything must be determined in such a way (which, by the way, is not completely clear on your model) that there is no freedom?

    As God looks down the corridor of time, he sees everything that will come to pass, every fork in every path taken. And as he looks at the past, he sees every choice taken then, but the choices taken then must be taken, cannot be taken otherwise, or the future God has already seen wouldn't exist. A future set in stone is incompatible with free will, and you've done nothing to explain how it could be. In the moment of every decision being taken, the decision is already taken. It was set in stone before that moment. You can no ore change a decision in the moment than you can rewrite the past and have something different for breakfast yesterday.

     

     

    You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.

    Actually, such a map does entail that there is no freedom. Again, free will requires the ability to choose between one or more possibilities. A road map that dictates all that will happen indicates that there are no other possibles, therefore there exists no mechanism to choose from, so there is no free will. The creator doesn't need to decide all the details, nor even any details - determinism doesn't require a creator at all. If you set up a domino rally, when the first one is pushed the others have no choice, they all fall, one after another. It's physics. The same principle applies here - each specific input results in certain outputs, cause and effect. Once the initial conditions are set things merely follow there course. They can follow this course whether or not something is watching, but the fact that something can already see the end that must happen means there can be no doubt as to what that end is. If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast? Yes, there's cereal in the cupboard, but the inputs are such that pancakes are the output. You would have needed to be programmed differently to choose differently. You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will.

     

     The "map" only excludes freedom if you build causal determinism into it, which you do, since you think it is necessary to explain foreknowledge.

    You've yet to explain how the route can be set, unchangeable, yet you can still have the power to make a choice. Before the choice is made what the choice will be is already known.

    But see my comments above--a time traveler may know what you will do tomorrow, and yet, that does not imply that what you do is determined. God could have a similar access to history. As for your example of the dominos. If the creator sets up the domino line and pushes the first domino, then you are incorrect, since the creator has in fact determined every single detail.

    Not so. It only requires that the dominoes be set up - once the push is given, they will fall as they must, because that is the only outcome from the preconditions given. The "creator" can just be the one who gives the push. It's the same with any inanimate object - they obey the laws of physics, we do not need to create some fig leaf of volition to make them feel like their existence has meaning.

    But this is not necessary for foreknowledge. All that is necessary is having a privileged access to the whole picture, "seeing down the corridors of time," and this seems to be consistent with freedom.

    How? If you have a privileged access to the whole picture, that means the whole picture is already painted. So, from the perspective of those within the picture, their actions are what leads to the creation of the next part of it, and so they think they control the story being told.

     

     

    You write:

     

    "If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast?"

     

    I think your language here is slightly hyperbolic. You can choose something other than pancakes, but you don't. And God can know what you will choose. Can you change your choices? That's a strange thing to consider--when would you, or anyone, have the opportunity to change a choice? You only have one moment to make a choice.

    It's not hyperbolic in the slightest, merely accurate. You didn't answer the question, I see. How do you choose something other than pancakes? There is already a future, a real future, not merely a possibility, in which pancakes were chosen. Before you ever started making them, before you bought the ingredients, before you learnt how to cook, before you were born, and all the way back to the first moment of time, that future, the one with the pancakes, has always been there. There exists no possibility of a future in which you do not choose pancakes - how is that compatible with free will? Before you make the choice, the choice is made. Certain inputs produce certain outputs - as the output is already known, then the inputs cannot be changed.

     

     

    You write:

     

    "You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will."

     

    Libertarian freedom is roughly defined like this: the ability to choose A or not A, where this choice is not determined by any external factors or antecedent conditions. And in principle, if you were placed in the exact same position again and again, you could make a different choice every time. But history doesn't give us the chance to do things over and over again. We face each choice only once. There is but one timeline, while there are many possible timelines. But there is no inconsistency with saying that God knows the actual timeline, which includes the decisions free beings will make. Even if you could have chosen differently, God can know what you will choose. Even if your choice was a very near thing, and you almost made the opposite choice, God can know what you do choose. Foreknowledge is a perfect knowledge about what is actual, about what actually happens, and this only requires a privileged access to history, which does not entail the loss of freedom.

    You're still dodging the point. There are no possible timelines - the events in them had no chance of happening. There is only what did happen. If you are so predictable that your actions can be known with absolute certainty, then, per your definition, you have no libertarian freedom - your decisions are set by antecedent conditions. Under these inputs, you will produce this output. If there existed the slightest possible chance that you would choose something different, then God's foreknowledge could not be absolute. This may be the one time when you don't do what you probably will. You've yet to explain how absolute foreknowledge is compatible with freedom. I've already explained how they are incompatible.

     

     

    Edit:  To the line of thought specifically about god, or whichever deity you want to use not being able to know if there's multiple choices.  You're assuming a deity works on the same level of dimension and concept of time as we do.  For all we know "god" is all knowing.  And knows exactly what we will do, because being omniscient in a multiversal setting (IE where each choice splits) would mean s/he/it could and would follow every possible eventuality.

    If every possible outcome comes to pass, that likewise invalidates free will, as I've already addressed - it removes the option to not choose something.

    Maybe we have choice AND the divine knows what we'll do in the same way the scene in Premium Rush shows Wiley analyzing and understanding every move he could make and what the result would be, only on a supremely grander scale.

     

    Or to put it even simpler.  Maybe whatever the divine is just knows you well enough that even with "free will" it can predict.  I know my son's behavior backwards and forwards, I know exactly how he'll respond to almost any situation.  I have been surprised all of once ever.  Now that's a case of one human vs another.  As a human I have limited knowledge and weaknesses that in theory a creator figure may not have.  If I can replicate a situation within our own limits, giving the idea that a divine being can do it on a grander scale isn't hard to believe, assuming we agree on there being a divine in the first place.

    If understanding of what will happen is absolute, that means it cannot be deviated from. If it cannot be deviated from, then there is only one possible choice. If there is only one possible choice, then there is no free will. If foreknowledge is not absolute, that doesn't mean free will exists, but it does leave space in which it might exist.

     

     

    May I assume that you've studied some of the philosophical issues involved in our friendly exchange? Either way, you've thought about these questions, which is nice. They are deeply complicated, and at the heart, quite mysterious. I used to think along the same line that you are arguing. I had read a lot of Leibniz (not sure if you are familiar with him or his work on this subject). Leibniz argued with great conviction that libertarian freedom is incompatible with God's foreknowledge, and I think one of his main claims was that libertarian freedom is in itself absolutely impossible (something we are not debating). But another point that I think comes out of the Leibnizian picture (though I don't think he argued for this) is that God creates according to an absolutely complete conception of the world, down to the smallest detail--he called this concept a "possible world." In theory, God should be able to look at each possible world before creation, and on that basis he could choose which world to create. But if we have libertarian freedom, then there is no way for God to know, simply by looking at a possible world, which world he would be creating. Why? Because there is no basis for knowing "ahead of time" which choices we will make, and therefore, which world would ultimately be created. Our choices would in part determine the overall possible world that is created, and this determination would not be contained in the concept God looks at before creation. So on Leibniz's model, divine foreknowledge is inconsistent with libertarian freedom.

     

    The above is roughly the view you've been giving. So, I do understand the basic position you are taking, and I think it has an intuitive plausibility. But as I said, I no longer hold to it. Built into that sort of explanation seems to be certain commitments to the nature of time, and the relation a being like God would have with time. All very tricky stuff. So, from a certain perspective--yours, and Leibniz's--it looks like there can be no freedom, since "everything is already determined." But this really doesn't say all that much. To insist that (1) freedom absolutely requires the ability to "choose otherwise," and to say that (2) there is no other possible choice if there is divine foreknowledge, is in my opinion to misconstrue the situation. First, even if we grant that the whole of history is in some sense "determined," including our choices, we still must answer: what has determined our choices? One answer might be causal determinism (where every action merely follows from a "first cause"). Another option is that the determination occurs from within history, occurring at discrete points and events, namely, the particular choices of human agents. The whole of history would then not be determined in a flash, as a whole, but would occurs as history seems to occur to us: moment by moment. The whole would then be determined by the parts, and not the other way around (and not from a first cause). To illustrate how a divine agent may foreknow free actions, I suggested the example of the time traveler. He goes to the future, witnesses Johnny freely choose to read A Memory of Light, then goes back to his own time to tell everyone with total certainty that Johnny will read A Memory of Light on such and such a day. The time traveler's knowledge is not inconsistent with Johnny's freedom. I further suggested that God could be thought of as having foreknowledge similar to the time traveler's. Foreknowledge and freedom are inconsistent only if we assume that God cannot look "down the corridors of time" in this way (or a similar way) to see what will occur. There are more complicated theories that I won't go into. So maybe the time traveler will work. :smile:

     

    One last issue, before my stamina runs out. You have claimed that freedom absolutely requires at least two "real" or "legit" possible choices. But this is really somewhat controversial--in fact, I'm not sure I believe it. Here is a famous example (I change some of the details). Suppose you have been abducted by a mad scientist who wants you to vote for the Green Party in the coming election, and he plants a chip in your head that can force you to choose the Green Party. You don't remember any of this, and you go to vote. The mad scientist is monitoring your thoughts, and if you think of anything that will cause you to vote against the Green party, he will flip the switch and make you vote GP. Otherwise, he won't do anything and he will let you vote GP. You go to vote, and vote GP without the mad scientist influencing or overriding your choice. In this example, there was really only one possible outcome: voting GP. Yet, even so, you still made your decision without any outside influence, and made up your own mind. Your choice was among several options, even though one of those options was "determined"--it was still ultimately determined by your choice.

     

    I hope I've been clear enough. I realize these are difficult issues. Some brilliant minds in history--like Leibniz--have taken your position, even though I now disagree with it.

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    The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future.

     

    Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated):

    (1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe"

    (2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?)

    (3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom

    (4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom.

     

    There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning.  But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle.

     

    Not really. "Choices" aren't determined by the people themselves, because there is no choice being made. There is only ever one possibility. If there is only on epossible thing that could happen, you are not choosing to do it, it is merely happening. Now, how can it be known what you will choose before you choose it, known not merely as a strong probability, but as an absolute certainty, as sure as 1+1=2? It can only be known as an absolute certainty if there is no other possibility. 1 and 1 don't discuss amongst themselves whether they equal 2 today, or whether today is the day they will change things up and equal 3. If a train is moving along the tracks and approaches a set of points, if the lever is one way the train goes one way, if the lever is the other way the train goes the other way. Does the train have free will? No. It doesn't choose, it merely goes down the path it must go down. The other set of tracks might give an illusion of choice, but the train makes no actual choice. To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not. Are there variant pasts or presents? Variant futures? If there is only one timeline, and the beginning and end and all the other points along the way are already set, then there is no option to deviate from it. Maybe God could change the points, send things down a new path, but we can't.

     

    Your reasoning goes along these lines:

     

    (A) You claim:

    "choices aren't determined by the people themselves, because no choice is being made."

    (B) Why is there no choice being made? Because:

    "There is only ever one possibility."

    © And why is there only one possibility? Because:

    God can't foreknow what you will choose if there is more than one possibility. Everything has to be "determined" before the choice, and it cannot be determined by the person making the choice (paraphrasing).The only way God (or any such being) can know what will happen is if there is only one possible choice. Otherwise, there is no basis for the knowing beforehand.

    (D) But why can't the person be responsible for determining the choice? Because:

    If the choice is not fixed before the choice is made, then God cannot know what the choice will be before it is made. And this is what makes freedom impossible, in light of foreknowledge.

    (E) Therefore:

    If there is a being that has foreknowledge of the future, then our choices are already "pre-determined" and there is no (libertarian) freedom.

     

    Basically, since you think there is no other explanation for foreknowledge, it follows that freedom would be impossible--the only way to explain foreknowledge is through some sort of comprehensive determinism that fixes choices before they are made. You've denied that a person could determine his choice. It's clear what motivates this claim (the worry over being able to explain foreknowledge), but it is less clear what actually supports it. I think this is what you think supports it (quoting you): "To a being outside time the past, present and future are one. We think of them as different, but they're not." Obviously, "past," "present," and "future" are terms that refer to moving targets, and even for us the content of past, present, future, is not essentially distinct. These are terms that refer to points of view relative to our position in the timeline. But if God (or some being) were to see history "all at once," does this imply that there is no freedom, as you suggest? No. It doesn't imply the absence of freedom any more than a time traveler seeing the future implies that the people he watches don't have freedom. The time traveler, let's say, witnesses the future, then goes back to his own time and he knows what certain people will choose. God could "see" the future, "looking down the corridors of time," as it were, seeing "the whole at once," seeing everything clearly, but like the time traveler, seeing free choices made in their own respective moments. Why could not a being such as God have this sort of privileged access to time and history? Why must it be as you suggest, that everything must be determined in such a way (which, by the way, is not completely clear on your model) that there is no freedom?

     

     

    You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.

    Actually, such a map does entail that there is no freedom. Again, free will requires the ability to choose between one or more possibilities. A road map that dictates all that will happen indicates that there are no other possibles, therefore there exists no mechanism to choose from, so there is no free will. The creator doesn't need to decide all the details, nor even any details - determinism doesn't require a creator at all. If you set up a domino rally, when the first one is pushed the others have no choice, they all fall, one after another. It's physics. The same principle applies here - each specific input results in certain outputs, cause and effect. Once the initial conditions are set things merely follow there course. They can follow this course whether or not something is watching, but the fact that something can already see the end that must happen means there can be no doubt as to what that end is. If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast? Yes, there's cereal in the cupboard, but the inputs are such that pancakes are the output. You would have needed to be programmed differently to choose differently. You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will.

     

    The "map" only excludes freedom if you build causal determinism into it, which you do, since you think it is necessary to explain foreknowledge. But see my comments above--a time traveler may know what you will do tomorrow, and yet, that does not imply that what you do is determined. God could have a similar access to history. As for your example of the dominos. If the creator sets up the domino line and pushes the first domino, then you are incorrect, since the creator has in fact determined every single detail. But this is not necessary for foreknowledge. All that is necessary is having a privileged access to the whole picture, "seeing down the corridors of time," and this seems to be consistent with freedom.

     

    You write:

     

    "If all the steps along the road are set and cannot be changed, ever, by anyone, then there can be no freedom. How can you choose something other than pancakes for breakfast?"

     

    I think your language here is slightly hyperbolic. You can choose something other than pancakes, but you don't. And God can know what you will choose. Can you change your choices? That's a strange thing to consider--when would you, or anyone, have the opportunity to change a choice? You only have one moment to make a choice.

     

    You write:

     

    "You continue to assert choice in a zero choice environment, because in the moment of choosing you could have chosen differently, even though you couldn't. How could you? If there exists the slightest possibility of a choice B, then God's foreknowledge cannot be absolute, but the absence of absolute foreknowledge doesn't guarantee free will."

     

    Libertarian freedom is roughly defined like this: the ability to choose A or not A, where this choice is not determined by any external factors or antecedent conditions. And in principle, if you were placed in the exact same position again and again, you could make a different choice every time. But history doesn't give us the chance to do things over and over again. We face each choice only once. There is but one timeline, while there are many possible timelines. But there is no inconsistency with saying that God knows the actual timeline, which includes the decisions free beings will make. Even if you could have chosen differently, God can know what you will choose. Even if your choice was a very near thing, and you almost made the opposite choice, God can know what you do choose. Foreknowledge is a perfect knowledge about what is actual, about what actually happens, and this only requires a privileged access to history, which does not entail the loss of freedom.

     

  4.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Also the Finns know the future even when balefire is involved

     

    This argument reminds me of the theological debate about the concept of free will being incompatible with the concept of an omniscient Creator.

     

    Suppose that you accept the free will hypothesis. There are two different cereal boxes in front of you, and you are able to use your free will to choose what you have for breakfast today. Now think back to what you ate for breakfast yesterday. Can you change yesterday's decision? No. Does that disprove free will? No.

     

    Similarly, something outside of time (or, in the case of the 'finns, somehow able to see outside the confines of time) is not incompatible with the free will hypothesis. You can imagine an entire universes timeline playing out with creatures having free agency. At the same time, something outside of that timeline can see the entire history of that universe (from say a Big Bang type beginning to however things turn out at the end) as if everybody's decisions were made and fixed like yesterday's breakfast.

     

    Apart from this WoT-universe discussion, I do believe in the possibility of free will. But I also think that we are largely influenced by circumstance (upbringing, past experiences, hormones and chemicals in our brain, and various other mental limitations), so the actual expression of free would only manifest itself in very subtle ways.

     

    You cannot change yesterday's decision because they have already been made. From the point of view of a being outside time, all decisions have already been made, even before you make them. Therefore, you have no capacity to choose differently, and therefore it does disprove free will.

     

     

    Mr. Ares, I respectfully disagree. The bald fact of knowing the future does not entail determinism or lack of freedom. It doesn't matter if the being is God, a god, a supercomputer, or whatever. Suppose God knows what you will have for breakfast tomorrow. God could know this because he knows you will freely choose pancakes. So the basis for knowledge could be the free choice itself.

    A statement that makes no sense. If I am capable of making a choice, there exists the possibility that I will not choose pancakes. God cannot know, with absolute certainty, what I will choose, even if he knows the outcome of any choice I might make, and what I am most likely to choose. What you are saying is that God will know what I will choose before I have chosen it, and therefore I have no option to choose something different, but my will is still free because...? God's knowledge of what I will do cannot be completely accurate unless I have the option to choose to do something different. Knowledge of the sort you propose is only possible where there exists no possibility of my making a different choice, and therefore despite the claim that my will is free you merely prove that it isn't.

     

    Well, depending on how you think the DO or Creator perceive the future, is how you will view free will vs determinism.

     

    If the DO and Creator see every possible outcome of a cause, then your free will does exist.  They see every possible choice you can make, and every choice after that choice, branching off into infinity.  You still can choose to do whatever you want, the DO/Creator just know all possible choices and all possible outcomes. 

     

    If however, the DO/Creator see only the future that WILL happen, then your free will does not exist, and is determined. 

     

    Personally I'm with the former.

     

    Hello Plato. Nice name for this sort of discussion :smile:

     

    I still don't think this is correct. Knowing what will happen does not entail that there is no (libertarian) freedom. Such knowledge is of the future, but knowledge itself does not determine the future, or fix it. Perhaps: my having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow is a free choice I make at breakfast tomorrow. It may be true today that "tomorrow I will have pancakes for breakfast," but what makes that true, what determines that this will be true, is not God's knowledge, or the supercomputer, but my making the choice tomorrow morning. We can conceive of God, or the supercomputer, as observers of history, seeing all in a flash what will be the case, including the choices free agents make. But merely observing what will happen, from some "atemporal" point of view, doesn't itself entail that these choices aren't free.blockquote>

    The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future. In other words, it is not God's knowledge that denies free will, but God's knowledge is the proof that free will is denied. We could still lack free will even if God, or some other atemporal observer didn't exist. The choice you are going to make tomorrow morning is, from your perpective, in the future, but from a more accurate perspective it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. If you are unable to change any decision even before you have made it, then how is your will free? You have a choice of A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it. As there exists no possibility of doing something other than A, the idea that you freely chose it is laughable.

    lockquote>

     

    Sorry, but I think there is some confusion here. I claimed that the fact of God (or supercomputer) knowing the future does not entail that there is no freedom. Your response is to say (let me paraphrase) that the only possible way that there could be such knowledge is if there is no freedom. But you have moved the debate. The original issue was whether knowing the future entails determinism or lack of a particular kind of freedom (libertarian). It doesn't. Your claim here (and perhaps in earlier posts I didn't read carefully) has to do with the ground for such knowledge. Note there is a difference between knowledge and its ground--that is, explaining how someone knows something. You may not care for the distinction, and may consider it splitting hairs, but it can be an important distinction to make.

     

    And so you claim: "The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future." In other words: " it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. ... You have a choice between A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it." I think that in these claims there is contained the heart of the difficulty. It seems you are conflating "possibility" and "actuality," "can" and "cannot." Simply because it is true today that I choose to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, does not mean that there is no other possibility. It is certainly true that it is possible for me to choose eggs, even though my actual choice will be pancakes. There is a distinction between possible choices and an actual choice. And if it is true that "tomorrow morning I choose pancakes for breakfast," this only entails that it is false that I choose eggs, or toast, or fruit, etc. It does not entail that these other possibilities are not possible choices--only that I do not in fact make these choices. So, if God knows it is true that tomorrow I choose pancakes, this certainly doesn't entail that there are no other choices available. If God knows what is true, he knows what I will choose. So, it doesn't follow that the mere fact of knowing what will happen entails that there cannot be any other possibility (as you suggest). Of course, it is extremely difficult explaining the ground of God's knowledge of the world--how do we explain omniscience? But that is a different question altogether.

     

    Look back on your future. Can you change any of your choices? No. They are fixed. And yet, did you make any free choices? I think you did. And are these not free choices even though you cannot change them, that nothing can change them now? Your perspective on your future is similar to the perspective of an atemporal being, having a point of view "outside of time" (if such a perspective is poss

    ible).

    The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future.

     

    >My point of vew as a Creator would be a big, complex pattern made of choices. I, as an omniscient being, would see this pattern complete at all times, but the pattern itself would be dynamic. So yes, I know everything but I see EVERY existing possibility and when someone makes a choice that fragment of the pattern would unravel. That or (this is what I fully support but the other opcion seems possible to me)an already fixated, static pattern because I know what you will choose, but I myself haven't anything to do with you choosing that. You have free will to choose the path you prefer, I simply know what you will choose because I know and comprehend you better than anyone. I'm God and omniscient after all.

     

    I don't know if I'm being stupid over 9000 but that's how I think it works. Yes, if God exists it knows everything, but that doesn't mean I don't have control over my f

    uture.

    God doesn't require omniscience. Omniscience doesn't preclude free will, depending on what is meant by omniscience - knowing every choice that could be made, knowing all the outcomes to all those choices, but not knowing which potential future is the real one until it happens, that allows free will. Knowing what will happen requires that there exists no possibility of it not happening, of it happening differently. Thus there are no possibilities, only certainties - what will happen, and what will not. Thus, no ability to choose between different possibilities.

     

     

    Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated):

    (1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe"

    (2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?)

    (3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom

    (4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom.

     

    There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning.  But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle.

     

    You attack the same problem from a different angle: at other places in what you wrote you seem to suggest that my choice tomorrow morning for pancakes cannot be free, since it is the one and only possible choice. I don't like this way of stating it, since it seems to confuse possibility and actuality. Rather: among the possible choices only one is in fact the actual choice made. We can say only one possibility will be the outcome. But what makes this the case? Perhaps it is my choice that makes it so. My choice tomorrow morning is the "truth-maker" for the truth today that "tomorrow I will choose pancakes for breakfast." So, the fact that "only one possibility is going to be actual," and that this is fixed, says nothing about whether or not there is freedom. It all depends upon what makes the proposition true. (note: this is a very complex issue though)

     

    You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.

     

    I don't know why what I wrote ended up nested in the quote. Weird. And it happened again here! Haha! 

  5.  

     

     

     

     

     

    Also the Finns know the future even when balefire is involved

     

    This argument reminds me of the theological debate about the concept of free will being incompatible with the concept of an omniscient Creator.

     

    Suppose that you accept the free will hypothesis. There are two different cereal boxes in front of you, and you are able to use your free will to choose what you have for breakfast today. Now think back to what you ate for breakfast yesterday. Can you change yesterday's decision? No. Does that disprove free will? No.

     

    Similarly, something outside of time (or, in the case of the 'finns, somehow able to see outside the confines of time) is not incompatible with the free will hypothesis. You can imagine an entire universes timeline playing out with creatures having free agency. At the same time, something outside of that timeline can see the entire history of that universe (from say a Big Bang type beginning to however things turn out at the end) as if everybody's decisions were made and fixed like yesterday's breakfast.

     

    Apart from this WoT-universe discussion, I do believe in the possibility of free will. But I also think that we are largely influenced by circumstance (upbringing, past experiences, hormones and chemicals in our brain, and various other mental limitations), so the actual expression of free would only manifest itself in very subtle ways.

     

    You cannot change yesterday's decision because they have already been made. From the point of view of a being outside time, all decisions have already been made, even before you make them. Therefore, you have no capacity to choose differently, and therefore it does disprove free will.

     

     

    Mr. Ares, I respectfully disagree. The bald fact of knowing the future does not entail determinism or lack of freedom. It doesn't matter if the being is God, a god, a supercomputer, or whatever. Suppose God knows what you will have for breakfast tomorrow. God could know this because he knows you will freely choose pancakes. So the basis for knowledge could be the free choice itself.

    A statement that makes no sense. If I am capable of making a choice, there exists the possibility that I will not choose pancakes. God cannot know, with absolute certainty, what I will choose, even if he knows the outcome of any choice I might make, and what I am most likely to choose. What you are saying is that God will know what I will choose before I have chosen it, and therefore I have no option to choose something different, but my will is still free because...? God's knowledge of what I will do cannot be completely accurate unless I have the option to choose to do something different. Knowledge of the sort you propose is only possible where there exists no possibility of my making a different choice, and therefore despite the claim that my will is free you merely prove that it isn't.

     

     

    Well, depending on how you think the DO or Creator perceive the future, is how you will view free will vs determinism.

     

    If the DO and Creator see every possible outcome of a cause, then your free will does exist.  They see every possible choice you can make, and every choice after that choice, branching off into infinity.  You still can choose to do whatever you want, the DO/Creator just know all possible choices and all possible outcomes. 

     

    If however, the DO/Creator see only the future that WILL happen, then your free will does not exist, and is determined. 

     

    Personally I'm with the former.

     

    Hello Plato. Nice name for this sort of discussion :smile:

     

    I still don't think this is correct. Knowing what will happen does not entail that there is no (libertarian) freedom. Such knowledge is of the future, but knowledge itself does not determine the future, or fix it. Perhaps: my having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow is a free choice I make at breakfast tomorrow. It may be true today that "tomorrow I will have pancakes for breakfast," but what makes that true, what determines that this will be true, is not God's knowledge, or the supercomputer, but my making the choice tomorrow morning. We can conceive of God, or the supercomputer, as observers of history, seeing all in a flash what will be the case, including the choices free agents make. But merely observing what will happen, from some "atemporal" point of view, doesn't itself entail that these choices aren't free.blockquote>

    The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future. In other words, it is not God's knowledge that denies free will, but God's knowledge is the proof that free will is denied. We could still lack free will even if God, or some other atemporal observer didn't exist. The choice you are going to make tomorrow morning is, from your perpective, in the future, but from a more accurate perspective it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. If you are unable to change any decision even before you have made it, then how is your will free? You have a choice of A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it. As there exists no possibility of doing something other than A, the idea that you freely chose it is laughable.

     

    Sorry, but I think there is some confusion here. I claimed that the fact of God (or supercomputer) knowing the future does not entail that there is no freedom. Your response is to say (let me paraphrase) that the only possible way that there could be such knowledge is if there is no freedom. But you have moved the debate. The original issue was whether knowing the future entails determinism or lack of a particular kind of freedom (libertarian). It doesn't. Your claim here (and perhaps in earlier posts I didn't read carefully) has to do with the ground for such knowledge. Note there is a difference between knowledge and its ground--that is, explaining how someone knows something. You may not care for the distinction, and may consider it splitting hairs, but it can be an important distinction to make.

     

    And so you claim: "The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future." In other words: " it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. ... You have a choice between A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it." I think that in these claims there is contained the heart of the difficulty. It seems you are conflating "possibility" and "actuality," "can" and "cannot." Simply because it is true today that I choose to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, does not mean that there is no other possibility. It is certainly true that it is possible for me to choose eggs, even though my actual choice will be pancakes. There is a distinction between possible choices and an actual choice. And if it is true that "tomorrow morning I choose pancakes for breakfast," this only entails that it is false that I choose eggs, or toast, or fruit, etc. It does not entail that these other possibilities are not possible choices--only that I do not in fact make these choices. So, if God knows it is true that tomorrow I choose pancakes, this certainly doesn't entail that there are no other choices available. If God knows what is true, he knows what I will choose. So, it doesn't follow that the mere fact of knowing what will happen entails that there cannot be any other possibility (as you suggest). Of course, it is extremely difficult explaining the ground of God's knowledge of the world--how do we explain omniscience? But that is a different question altogether.

     

    Look back on your future. Can you change any of your choices? No. They are fixed. And yet, did you make any free choices? I think you did. And are these not free choices even though you cannot change them, that nothing can change them now? Your perspective on your future is similar to the perspective of an atemporal being, having a point of view "outside of time" (if such a perspective is possible).

    The problem is not that I am conflating possibilities and actualities, it is that you are conflating actual possibilities with the illusion of possibility. Take your pancakes as an example - your choices are to eat pancakes for breakfast, or to eat pancakes for breakfast. Sure, you have cereal in the cupboard, you have some bread so you can make toast, and it is from this that you draw the illusion of choice - you say that you could, if you chose, have something other than pancakes. The problem is there is no actual chance of you having something other than pancakes. That you will have pancakes is a certainty, it is the only possible option. So how do you have free will? An option that you are incapable of exercising is not an option at all. There exists no possibility that you could have something else. You are incapable of having something else - not because you are being forced to have that, not because there is nothing else to eat, but because the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided. Absolute foreknowledge does not cause a deterministic future, but a deterministic future is required for that foreknowledge to exist, therefore foreknowledge does preclude free will. You haven't truly got to grips with the contradiction at the heart of your position. Before you are even born, your every choice is already made, yet you still have free will. Saying that you are free to choose in the moment of choosing is absurd - in the moment of choosing, your choice has already been made, the outcome has already observed, it has already happened. To a being outside time, your choices that you have yet to make, and the choices you have already made are the same. So either you can change the decisions in your past, or you cannot change the decisions in your future.

     

    My point of vew as a Creator would be a big, complex pattern made of choices. I, as an omniscient being, would see this pattern complete at all times, but the pattern itself would be dynamic. So yes, I know everything but I see EVERY existing possibility and when someone makes a choice that fragment of the pattern would unravel. That or (this is what I fully support but the other opcion seems possible to me)an already fixated, static pattern because I know what you will choose, but I myself haven't anything to do with you choosing that. You have free will to choose the path you prefer, I simply know what you will choose because I know and comprehend you better than anyone. I'm God and omniscient after all.

     

    I don't know if I'm being stupid over 9000 but that's how I think it works. Yes, if God exists it knows everything, but that doesn't mean I don't have control over my future.

    God doesn't require omniscience. Omniscience doesn't preclude free will, depending on what is meant by omniscience - knowing every choice that could be made, knowing all the outcomes to all those choices, but not knowing which potential future is the real one until it happens, that allows free will. Knowing what will happen requires that there exists no possibility of it not happening, of it happening differently. Thus there are no possibilities, only certainties - what will happen, and what will not. Thus, no ability to choose between different possibilities.

     

     

     

    Your argument goes something like this (very roughly stated):

    (1) Foreknowledge requires a "deterministic universe"

    (2) If a universe is "deterministic," then there are no other ("real?") possibilities (i.e., there is only one causal line of events exists?)

    (3) If there are no other possibilities, then there is no libertarian freedom

    (4) Hence, foreknowledge entails that there is no libertarian freedom.

     

    There are a few difficulties with this argument. The whole thing hinges on the claim that the universe must be deterministic for there to be foreknowledge, and that this deterministic structure must be understood in a very specific way: as causal determinism. This point, on what sort of "determinism" must be at play in your argument, is a bit muddled (so maybe you don't really mean causal determinism), but this is precisely the issue that is being debated. Here's the question: What is it that determines my choice? In order for your argument to work, you need to say that choices are not determined by the people themselves--you need to say that my choice to have pancakes tomorrow is not determined by me tomorrow morning.  But what is the basis for saying that I do not determine my choice? This is your basis: that foreknowledge is incompatible with an agent determining his own choice. The problem is that this just assumes your conclusion and doesn't provide a reason for your conclusion. You've gone in something of a circle.

     

    You attack the same problem from a different angle: at other places in what you wrote you seem to suggest that my choice tomorrow morning for pancakes cannot be free, since it is the one and only possible choice. I don't like this way of stating it, since it seems to confuse possibility and actuality. Rather: among the possible choices only one is in fact the actual choice made. We can say only one possibility will be the outcome. But what makes this the case? Perhaps it is my choice that makes it so. My choice tomorrow morning is the "truth-maker" for the truth today that "tomorrow I will choose pancakes for breakfast." So, the fact that "only one possibility is going to be actual," and that this is fixed, says nothing about whether or not there is freedom. It all depends upon what makes the proposition true. (note: this is a very complex issue though)

     

    You deny what I've just said when you claim: "the decision was already made, in the moment of the creation of the universe your every actions has already been mapped out and decided." Ok, let's say this is the case. "Mapped out" and "decided" imply that every detail is in place beforehand--let's say this is the map the creator consults to "see" the entire scope of the universe, "foreknowing" every event, every choice, etc. How does this entail that there is no freedom in the world? It doesn't. Perhaps "the map" includes that at a time X I will freely choose pancakes for breakfast. There is no inherent incompatibility here between such a highly detailed "map" and freedom. In order to make a case that freedom is incompatible you need to say that the creator personally decided every single detail in the map, and then personally caused every single detail in the map to be the case. But that's really another sort of argument.

  6.  

     

     

     

    Also the Finns know the future even when balefire is involved

     

    This argument reminds me of the theological debate about the concept of free will being incompatible with the concept of an omniscient Creator.

     

    Suppose that you accept the free will hypothesis. There are two different cereal boxes in front of you, and you are able to use your free will to choose what you have for breakfast today. Now think back to what you ate for breakfast yesterday. Can you change yesterday's decision? No. Does that disprove free will? No.

     

    Similarly, something outside of time (or, in the case of the 'finns, somehow able to see outside the confines of time) is not incompatible with the free will hypothesis. You can imagine an entire universes timeline playing out with creatures having free agency. At the same time, something outside of that timeline can see the entire history of that universe (from say a Big Bang type beginning to however things turn out at the end) as if everybody's decisions were made and fixed like yesterday's breakfast.

     

    Apart from this WoT-universe discussion, I do believe in the possibility of free will. But I also think that we are largely influenced by circumstance (upbringing, past experiences, hormones and chemicals in our brain, and various other mental limitations), so the actual expression of free would only manifest itself in very subtle ways.

     

    You cannot change yesterday's decision because they have already been made. From the point of view of a being outside time, all decisions have already been made, even before you make them. Therefore, you have no capacity to choose differently, and therefore it does disprove free will.

     

     

    Mr. Ares, I respectfully disagree. The bald fact of knowing the future does not entail determinism or lack of freedom. It doesn't matter if the being is God, a god, a supercomputer, or whatever. Suppose God knows what you will have for breakfast tomorrow. God could know this because he knows you will freely choose pancakes. So the basis for knowledge could be the free choice itself.

    A statement that makes no sense. If I am capable of making a choice, there exists the possibility that I will not choose pancakes. God cannot know, with absolute certainty, what I will choose, even if he knows the outcome of any choice I might make, and what I am most likely to choose. What you are saying is that God will know what I will choose before I have chosen it, and therefore I have no option to choose something different, but my will is still free because...? God's knowledge of what I will do cannot be completely accurate unless I have the option to choose to do something different. Knowledge of the sort you propose is only possible where there exists no possibility of my making a different choice, and therefore despite the claim that my will is free you merely prove that it isn't.

     

     

    Well, depending on how you think the DO or Creator perceive the future, is how you will view free will vs determinism.

     

    If the DO and Creator see every possible outcome of a cause, then your free will does exist.  They see every possible choice you can make, and every choice after that choice, branching off into infinity.  You still can choose to do whatever you want, the DO/Creator just know all possible choices and all possible outcomes. 

     

    If however, the DO/Creator see only the future that WILL happen, then your free will does not exist, and is determined. 

     

    Personally I'm with the former.

     

    Hello Plato. Nice name for this sort of discussion :smile:

     

    I still don't think this is correct. Knowing what will happen does not entail that there is no (libertarian) freedom. Such knowledge is of the future, but knowledge itself does not determine the future, or fix it. Perhaps: my having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow is a free choice I make at breakfast tomorrow. It may be true today that "tomorrow I will have pancakes for breakfast," but what makes that true, what determines that this will be true, is not God's knowledge, or the supercomputer, but my making the choice tomorrow morning. We can conceive of God, or the supercomputer, as observers of history, seeing all in a flash what will be the case, including the choices free agents make. But merely observing what will happen, from some "atemporal" point of view, doesn't itself entail that these choices aren't free.

    The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future. In other words, it is not God's knowledge that denies free will, but God's knowledge is the proof that free will is denied. We could still lack free will even if God, or some other atemporal observer didn't exist. The choice you are going to make tomorrow morning is, from your perpective, in the future, but from a more accurate perspective it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. If you are unable to change any decision even before you have made it, then how is your will free? You have a choice of A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it. As there exists no possibility of doing something other than A, the idea that you freely chose it is laughable.

     

     

    Sorry, but I think there is some confusion here. I claimed that the fact of God (or supercomputer) knowing the future does not entail that there is no freedom. Your response is to say (let me paraphrase) that the only possible way that there could be such knowledge is if there is no freedom. But you have moved the debate. The original issue was whether knowing the future entails determinism or lack of a particular kind of freedom (libertarian). It doesn't. Your claim here (and perhaps in earlier posts I didn't read carefully) has to do with the ground for such knowledge. Note there is a difference between knowledge and its ground--that is, explaining how someone knows something. You may not care for the distinction, and may consider it splitting hairs, but it can be an important distinction to make.

     

    And so you claim: "The knowledge would only be possible where there is no freedom to choose a different future." In other words: " it is a choice that has already been made, and you therefore cannot change it. ... You have a choice between A or A - there appears to be a B, but you cannot choose it." I think that in these claims there is contained the heart of the difficulty. It seems you are conflating "possibility" and "actuality," "can" and "cannot." Simply because it is true today that I choose to have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, does not mean that there is no other possibility. It is certainly true that it is possible for me to choose eggs, even though my actual choice will be pancakes. There is a distinction between possible choices and an actual choice. And if it is true that "tomorrow morning I choose pancakes for breakfast," this only entails that it is false that I choose eggs, or toast, or fruit, etc. It does not entail that these other possibilities are not possible choices--only that I do not in fact make these choices. So, if God knows it is true that tomorrow I choose pancakes, this certainly doesn't entail that there are no other choices available. If God knows what is true, he knows what I will choose. So, it doesn't follow that the mere fact of knowing what will happen entails that there cannot be any other possibility (as you suggest). Of course, it is extremely difficult explaining the ground of God's knowledge of the world--how do we explain omniscience? But that is a different question altogether.

     

    Look back on your future. Can you change any of your choices? No. They are fixed. And yet, did you make any free choices? I think you did. And are these not free choices even though you cannot change them, that nothing can change them now? Your perspective on your future is similar to the perspective of an atemporal being, having a point of view "outside of time" (if such a perspective is possible).

  7. Well, depending on how you think the DO or Creator perceive the future, is how you will view free will vs determinism.

     

    If the DO and Creator see every possible outcome of a cause, then your free will does exist.  They see every possible choice you can make, and every choice after that choice, branching off into infinity.  You still can choose to do whatever you want, the DO/Creator just know all possible choices and all possible outcomes. 

     

    If however, the DO/Creator see only the future that WILL happen, then your free will does not exist, and is determined. 

     

    Personally I'm with the former.

     

    Hello Plato. Nice name for this sort of discussion :smile:

     

    I still don't think this is correct. Knowing what will happen does not entail that there is no (libertarian) freedom. Such knowledge is of the future, but knowledge itself does not determine the future, or fix it. Perhaps: my having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow is a free choice I make at breakfast tomorrow. It may be true today that "tomorrow I will have pancakes for breakfast," but what makes that true, what determines that this will be true, is not God's knowledge, or the supercomputer, but my making the choice tomorrow morning. We can conceive of God, or the supercomputer, as observers of history, seeing all in a flash what will be the case, including the choices free agents make. But merely observing what will happen, from some "atemporal" point of view, doesn't itself entail that these choices aren't free.

  8.  

     

    Also the Finns know the future even when balefire is involved

     

    This argument reminds me of the theological debate about the concept of free will being incompatible with the concept of an omniscient Creator.

     

    Suppose that you accept the free will hypothesis. There are two different cereal boxes in front of you, and you are able to use your free will to choose what you have for breakfast today. Now think back to what you ate for breakfast yesterday. Can you change yesterday's decision? No. Does that disprove free will? No.

     

    Similarly, something outside of time (or, in the case of the 'finns, somehow able to see outside the confines of time) is not incompatible with the free will hypothesis. You can imagine an entire universes timeline playing out with creatures having free agency. At the same time, something outside of that timeline can see the entire history of that universe (from say a Big Bang type beginning to however things turn out at the end) as if everybody's decisions were made and fixed like yesterday's breakfast.

     

    Apart from this WoT-universe discussion, I do believe in the possibility of free will. But I also think that we are largely influenced by circumstance (upbringing, past experiences, hormones and chemicals in our brain, and various other mental limitations), so the actual expression of free would only manifest itself in very subtle ways.

    You cannot change yesterday's decision because they have already been made. From the point of view of a being outside time, all decisions have already been made, even before you make them. Therefore, you have no capacity to choose differently, and therefore it does disprove free will.

     

    Mr. Ares, I respectfully disagree. The bald fact of knowing the future does not entail determinism or lack of freedom. It doesn't matter if the being is God, a god, a supercomputer, or whatever. Suppose God knows what you will have for breakfast tomorrow. God could know this because he knows you will freely choose pancakes. So the basis for knowledge could be the free choice itself.

     

    Of course, this whole debate in this thread is assuming a particular view of freedom. There have been some philosophers who have argued that freedom is compatible with determinism. But here we are assuming what's known as "libertarian freedom."

  9.  

     

    Excuse me, but this is fantasy, we have people who can travel and horizontal gateways that look over the field!

     

    I don't think it's fair to compare it to battles in our world.

     

     

    "1359791426">

    Mat is instantly able to send orders to any commander he wants, watch from above to make sure they are carried out, and instantly send corrections if needed.  The real world analogues are

    silly.

     

    I know, in the real world commanders don't have the ability to send instant orders to the field, or watch a battle from above, or send immediate orders to correct something, or...hey, wait a minute!   :smile: If you think about modern warfare, there is a lot of similar stuff, when you consider the level of fire power we can bring to a fight, or the way we can watch ("real time") what is happening on the battlefield. And yet, we still study the great battles of history. Why? Because the principles still apply. What Alexander the Great did is still relevant. 

     

    Modern day commanders have this ability.  You weren't comparing modern day commanders though, you were making the statement that it's impossible for Mat to have a specific level of control over the battle and citing completely irrelevant ancient battles to support the argument.  

     

     

    Maybe you didn't read the whole discussion I was having with the other feller, or maybe you didn't read it carefully (who can blame you? :smile: ), but the original point was his (I'm assuming he's a he :tongue: ). I think it's an interesting critique, and I think I agree with it. But I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's impossible for Mat to have that level of control. It sure does seem unlikely though, when you think it through. If you are interested, read through all the relevant posts. (Also, I didn't cite Alexander the Great as support for this particular conclusion--I originally brought him in, actually, as a counterpoint against this view.)

  10. Excuse me, but this is fantasy, we have people who can travel and horizontal gateways that look over the field!

     

    I don't think it's fair to compare it to battles in our world.

     

     

    Mat is instantly able to send orders to any commander he wants, watch from above to make sure they are carried out, and instantly send corrections if needed.  The real world analogues are silly.

     

    I know, in the real world commanders don't have the ability to send instant orders to the field, or watch a battle from above, or send immediate orders to correct something, or...hey, wait a minute!  :smile: If you think about modern warfare, there is a lot of similar stuff, when you consider the level of fire power we can bring to a fight, or the way we can watch ("real time") what is happening on the battlefield. And yet, we still study the great battles of history. Why? Because the principles still apply. What Alexander the Great did is still relevant. 

  11.  

     

    Never understood the hate for the Mat of the last 3 books. I absolutely love how he gets more humorous and light-hearted the more dire the situation gets. 

     

    To the whole complaint that Mat should have "out-general-ed" Demandred, that is pure bullshit. The fact that "great captains" were influencing battles so much and that tactics and command mattered THIS much was stretching reality hard as it is. In video games, the commander of the army matters because his orders are carried out perfectly and as such they guide the battle. In real battle, orders matter very very little and command is awfully complicated, involving thousands of men. I can accept that stretched slightly to allow for fantasy, but the whole battle being a tactical fight between two people? That would have been awful.

     

    I guess I see it differently. The way Mat was written was the biggest disappointment. But I'm glad you liked it.

     

    You bring up an interesting point about tactics and "out-general-ing" Demandred. I don't have a lot of knowledge about military history, but I do know that battles have been won through tactics. Go back to Alexander the Great, and some of the stuff he pulled off, while leading the cavalry on the battlefield, at times against absolutely horrible odds. That's how I always pictured Mat. So I sort of expected Mat to do something similar, and "out-general" Demandred on the field of battle (or whoever the tactical commander was going to be). Tactics can win battles. And sometimes tactics need to be revised while in the heat of battle. But I think your point was that there was a lack of seeing a command structure that would have been capable of carrying out the precision necessary to carry out these battlefield movements. We weren't given much of a sense of this (I don't recall). But maybe the idea was that the one power would have made this easier.

     

    I can't explain it to you but....read War and Peace. When Tolstoy stops the story and starts explaining things about the war and Napoleon, he perfectly explains the truth of it. 

     

    I'm sure it's been explained in a simpler and far less tedious way somewhere else, but it's the only one I can think of.

     

    See, in a battle, the chain of command and such given are very different from a single commander sending orders to people which are carried out. In order to handle a large army, as the one in the last battle is, a very complex and different chain of command with people with different expertise and freedom to act upon changes in the situation is created. A single person, even with a view of the battlefield as Mat had cannot correctly judge positions and the flow of the battle and act accordingly, acting as a single commander over the rest. Most commanders will disagree, many orders will be carried out differently, messengers will relay wrong messages....it's just so complicated that you can't explain a battle with the actions of commanders. In most cases, they are carried by the flow of events and their "tactics" matter in just the overall scheme of things - whether the plan is to retreat, flank, advance, etc.

     

    The reason history focuses around commanders, generals and individuals is because it is not viable to explain battles in their entire truth. You can say that "Napoleon made his infantry move through the woods and ambush the enemy" or you can spend 7 pages explaining why it REALLY happened, why it was successful and so on. Academically, both are the same, so historians explain them in the simpler, clearer way. Fantasy and sci-fi take this route, because the other one is boring and has no appeal at all.

     

    About your use of the tactics of Alexander the Great, for example - the reason his tactics seemed genius is a huge combination of endless factors, mistakes, differences in equipment, etc. etc. etc.

     

    It's terribly complicated and boring as hell, hence why I agree that it was OK to portray the whole battle as it was portrayed - my point was that it would have been terrible if Mat had "out-general-ed" Demandred, as such a thing would have shattered any sense of reality.

     

    I thought about your point a little more, and you may be on to something. However, the discussion is a little cloudy. I believe the position you articulated is that (a) Mat did not "out-general" Demandred, and (b) if he did it would have been foolish. But I'm not sure this is exactly right. There are fans in this very forum, I believe, who really do think Mat did "out-general" Demandred. Why? because Mat was able to go "toe-to-toe" with him, and prevent a complete destruction of the good guys. So, "out-general-ing" is something of a judgment call. But you're issue has to do more with the fact that all the captains, including Mat, were portrayed as being able to plan--and execute--their battles with unbelievable precision. In short, it was quite literally unbelievable that a commander could have this level of real-time control over a battle. Right? Too many things can go wrong. Too many factors stand in the way. Commanders can only operate on the level of overall tactics, setting the shape of the battle, while the details must necessarily be left to others. I think this is right, and it seems a fair criticism. Perhaps Mat should not have been portrayed as having this sort of control. Maybe he should have outlined a devious plan, in the "war room" beforehand, and then fought on the battlefield--maybe adjusting something here or there, while leading the Band. That's actually the sort of thing I have originally expected. Thoughts?

     

    Last, I disagree with your phrasing here: "the reason [Alexander's] tactics seemed genius is a huge combination of endless factors, mistakes, differences in equipment, etc." Alexander's tactics were genius, and their genius was objectively distinct from their execution. When he fought against, I think Darius, it was only because of his battle plan the night before--we are told it came to him on the very eve of battle--that they were able to win against astronomical odds. He formulated a plan that continues to be studied today. Of course, he had excellent troops, etc., but they were outnumbered something crazy, and not by farmers. :smile:

  12.  

     

    Never understood the hate for the Mat of the last 3 books. I absolutely love how he gets more humorous and light-hearted the more dire the situation gets. 

     

    To the whole complaint that Mat should have "out-general-ed" Demandred, that is pure bullshit. The fact that "great captains" were influencing battles so much and that tactics and command mattered THIS much was stretching reality hard as it is. In video games, the commander of the army matters because his orders are carried out perfectly and as such they guide the battle. In real battle, orders matter very very little and command is awfully complicated, involving thousands of men. I can accept that stretched slightly to allow for fantasy, but the whole battle being a tactical fight between two people? That would have been awful.

     

    I guess I see it differently. The way Mat was written was the biggest disappointment. But I'm glad you liked it.

     

    You bring up an interesting point about tactics and "out-general-ing" Demandred. I don't have a lot of knowledge about military history, but I do know that battles have been won through tactics. Go back to Alexander the Great, and some of the stuff he pulled off, while leading the cavalry on the battlefield, at times against absolutely horrible odds. That's how I always pictured Mat. So I sort of expected Mat to do something similar, and "out-general" Demandred on the field of battle (or whoever the tactical commander was going to be). Tactics can win battles. And sometimes tactics need to be revised while in the heat of battle. But I think your point was that there was a lack of seeing a command structure that would have been capable of carrying out the precision necessary to carry out these battlefield movements. We weren't given much of a sense of this (I don't recall). But maybe the idea was that the one power would have made this easier.

     

    I can't explain it to you but....read War and Peace. When Tolstoy stops the story and starts explaining things about the war and Napoleon, he perfectly explains the truth of it. 

     

    I'm sure it's been explained in a simpler and far less tedious way somewhere else, but it's the only one I can think of.

     

    See, in a battle, the chain of command and such given are very different from a single commander sending orders to people which are carried out. In order to handle a large army, as the one in the last battle is, a very complex and different chain of command with people with different expertise and freedom to act upon changes in the situation is created. A single person, even with a view of the battlefield as Mat had cannot correctly judge positions and the flow of the battle and act accordingly, acting as a single commander over the rest. Most commanders will disagree, many orders will be carried out differently, messengers will relay wrong messages....it's just so complicated that you can't explain a battle with the actions of commanders. In most cases, they are carried by the flow of events and their "tactics" matter in just the overall scheme of things - whether the plan is to retreat, flank, advance, etc.

     

    The reason history focuses around commanders, generals and individuals is because it is not viable to explain battles in their entire truth. You can say that "Napoleon made his infantry move through the woods and ambush the enemy" or you can spend 7 pages explaining why it REALLY happened, why it was successful and so on. Academically, both are the same, so historians explain them in the simpler, clearer way. Fantasy and sci-fi take this route, because the other one is boring and has no appeal at all.

     

    About your use of the tactics of Alexander the Great, for example - the reason his tactics seemed genius is a huge combination of endless factors, mistakes, differences in equipment, etc. etc. etc.

     

    It's terribly complicated and boring as hell, hence why I agree that it was OK to portray the whole battle as it was portrayed - my point was that it would have been terrible if Mat had "out-general-ed" Demandred, as such a thing would have shattered any sense of reality.

     

    This was well said. Thanks. I'll think about it. And War and Peace is in my list. When I get the time! :smile:

  13. Never understood the hate for the Mat of the last 3 books. I absolutely love how he gets more humorous and light-hearted the more dire the situation gets. 

     

    To the whole complaint that Mat should have "out-general-ed" Demandred, that is pure bullshit. The fact that "great captains" were influencing battles so much and that tactics and command mattered THIS much was stretching reality hard as it is. In video games, the commander of the army matters because his orders are carried out perfectly and as such they guide the battle. In real battle, orders matter very very little and command is awfully complicated, involving thousands of men. I can accept that stretched slightly to allow for fantasy, but the whole battle being a tactical fight between two people? That would have been awful.

     

    I guess I see it differently. The way Mat was written was the biggest disappointment. But I'm glad you liked it.

     

    You bring up an interesting point about tactics and "out-general-ing" Demandred. I don't have a lot of knowledge about military history, but I do know that battles have been won through tactics. Go back to Alexander the Great, and some of the stuff he pulled off, while leading the cavalry on the battlefield, at times against absolutely horrible odds. That's how I always pictured Mat. So I sort of expected Mat to do something similar, and "out-general" Demandred on the field of battle (or whoever the tactical commander was going to be). Tactics can win battles. And sometimes tactics need to be revised while in the heat of battle. But I think your point was that there was a lack of seeing a command structure that would have been capable of carrying out the precision necessary to carry out these battlefield movements. We weren't given much of a sense of this (I don't recall). But maybe the idea was that the one power would have made this easier.

  14.  

     

    To the whole complaint that Mat should have "out-general-ed" Demandred, that is pure bullshit.

    What was bullshit is Demandred's claim of:

     

    AMoL

    "the finesse of it... the little details... these took centuries to master. No man from this age had lived long enough to learn the details with such care."

    Demandred is centuries old but the War of Power only lasted around 10 years(before that it was unknown during the AoL). The Great Captains should have more practical experience in warfare than he does.

     

     

    Wow, I hadn't thought of that. Seems like a big mistake (but maybe there is a way to explain it?)

  15.  

    @crowl

     

    1. RJ mostly wrote Mat in ToM.

     

    2. Although I admire your faith after all the mistakes Team Jordan has admitted and the way these last few books have turned out I'm not sure it is at all realistic. At some point you can't keep turning a blind eye.

     

    @Rhienne

     

    BS's Mat is no longer a rogue. He is a court jester prancing around in motley.

     

    I disagree with you. I loved the Mat of the last three books.

     

    Boy, it's funny how two people can see things so differently. I completely agree with Suttree, that mat is no longer a rogue but a court jester. I think that's perfectly stated. It felt like I wasn't even reading the same character. Even if the new "mat" were a good character, it was not Mat. This is one of the biggest disappointments I had with BS's writing, since Mat was one of my all time favorite characters (in any book). I can see why it might be difficult to write mat, though, since what was really interesting and enjoyable about him has to do with the complex interweaving of how others saw him, juxtaposed with how he really was. There was a lot of irony at work. The humor of the character was not so much in punchlines or in his prancing, but it was often in the irony (in the difference between the way he really was and the way he tried so hard to see himself, and how others saw him). I loved how others would underestimate him, roll their eyes, but how all the soldiers were in awe of him. And one of the things I really missed in this last book was how others came to see him differently--and from the perspective of enjoying the arc of his character, this was really important (since this played such a big role in the way he was written).

  16. My thoughts on the "body switch" thingy. Isn't Moridin they guy who craves oblivion? Doesn't he want to completely cease to exist? So, maybe that's what happened. Maybe Rand helped him, mercifully, into oblivion, and his soul was snipped from the pattern (or something). His body then became "available" to Rand. And wasn't it already established that there was some kind of strange link between Rand and Moridin, so that we don't need to appeal to a warder bond between them to explain Rand switching bodies? If Rand had in that moment the power to kill the DO, this doesn't seem like it would be more difficult. He showed mercy to Moridin by not just killing him, but giving him what he wanted. When the body was emptied, Rand then slipped in. This would help to explain Moridin's arc a bit (that he craved oblivion, and it was finally given to him). 

  17.  

     

     

    @flinn

     

    Single scenes don't make a book, and yes there have been some sections that were well done. That said the work was far too uneven and the writing at times extremely unpolished. That is before you even start touching on the mistakes, structural issues and time line. That is exactly the point Mr Ares is making. Turning a blind eye to how flawed these books were and saying well "certain parts were done well" and "at least we got an ending"(which has been repeated ad nauseam) is selling Brandon short.

     

    Edit: Although I agree that a couple of the scenes you mention above were good, simply listing things you like doesn't really help in showing how Brandon's scenes have "rivaled our outdone" any scenes in the series. Which of course is going overboard anyway. These last three books included some good scenes, were well paced at times and had a good deal of fan gratification as we reached the end of the story arc. They were not well written on the whole however, not by any stretch.

     

    How is that different from the previous 11 books though?

    C'mon, be honest, on re-reads don't tell me you don't skip/skim some of the "wonder twin" scenes or Elayne solo scenes or a good bit of the Faile is captured arc among other scenes and arcs that while, are well written, don't progress the story/plot one iota for 100's of pages.

     

    I think, after about books 6-7 there has always been some criticism to be made. The difference though is that the nature of that criticism has changed.

    And please don't bring up the KoD argument again. Yes it was a step in the right direction to righting the series, it was only a step though, it didn't right everything and it took almost 3 bloody years to get out from the last, culminating a rather agonizing 10-12 year lull (depending on whether you want to count from LoC or aCoS).

     

    I'm not defending BS here either, he definitely has his faults but so did RJ, they just don't share the same faults.

    How is it different? You said so yourself in the above post. "and arcs that while, are well written" The quality of writing never dropped even during that tPoD-CoT slow down(let's be real, RJ's critics never included LoC and ACoS in that stretch so I have no idea why you would in your count).

     

    Criticism of RJ during that period, especially after CoT was pretty heavy around these parts for him possibly having lost control. KoD showed that it although things did get away from him it was the story arc as much as anything that slowed things down and he was going in the right direction. Naturally it sped up as we reach the climax, it's not like it's some inherent skill BS has that RJ does not. In fact the space wasn't used that wisely in the slightest. Further when you see the bloat and filler in these last three books,  I honestly can't imagine what the middle part of the story arc in a long series will look like under Brandon.

     

    This is a thread dedicated to discussing the writing quality of Sanderson's WoT contribution and everything I said in the post you quoted is pretty much spot on. The quality of writing while at times good, is far too uneven and doesn't hold up under careful scrutiny. Characterization suffered, plotwork was often blunt/lowest common denominator and the dialog was wooden at times. None of those things can be applied to RJ's writing and that is where the difference lies.

     

    For the record I don't skip anything on my re-reads and when you don't have to wait for a new book to come out the initial complaints about pace, especially in relation to tPoD and WH are overblown.

     

    For the life of me I can not understand anyone who dares to say that BS is the only one guilty of "filler" and if anything RJ was more guilty of using "filler" than BS ever has.

    RJ's filler was usually better written but it was still FILLER! You can dress a duck up as a swan but it's still a duck.

     

    The pace of tPoD/WH/Cot is not overblown in the slightest! Please by all means tell me what plots were concluded or even moved along very much in the 737,108 words that comprised those 3 books??? Compared to each individual previous book and even KoD....not even remotely close there Sut, no way man.

    The pace of those 3 books is just plain poor and THEN made almost unbearable with the long release dates.

     

    Also for the record...

    LoC - OCT '94

    ACOS - MAY '96

    KOD - OCT '05

     

    That's 11 years between #6 and #11. Almost 10 years between #7 and #11.

     

     

    Either way, at the end of the day, some people around here just need to accept that BS's deficiencies as the finisher of this series simply don't bother some people as much as it does others.

    A lot of this debating is over how one FELT after finishing and no amount of arguing or constant repeating of the same points that some don't care as much about in the first place, is going to change how another FELT.

     

    That's why so many of these debates get out of hand so quickly. The reality is that there's actually no right answer, just how we feel.

     

    I agree that there is filler for both authors. I agree that the pace of the plot suffers for RJ in some of the middle books. However, you end by saying that there is no right answer, and it is just how we feel. I disagree. Wouldn't you say that there are standards that are independent of our feelings? Is it only a matter of feeling to say that RJ is not as great a writer as, oh I don't know, Shakespeare? And don't you also rely on presumably objective standards when you claim that there is filler for both authors and that the pace of RJ's plot development suffered at times? Or is this just how you feel?

     

    I think we can strive to articulate objective standard through which art (loosely understood) can be judged. Otherwise, there can be no distinction between Beethoven and Britney Spears. And I agree with you, that these discussions often are about how we feel. And perhaps it is really hard to articulate objective grounds by which to judge our authors. But that does not mean that there are no quality differences, or that these differences only amount to the way we feel.

     

    In any case, Wheel of Time is loads of fun. But it's not great writing. It won't last. And neither will these conversations. So let's have fun!  :smile:

  18. Demandred was not going to chase LTT/Rand anywhere. The only reason Demandred didn't unload everything he had on the Forces of the Light in the first place was because he truly believed that LTT was there somewhere and didn't want to drain himself when (not IF in Demandred's mind) LTT came to face him.

    Mat also used this in his strategy.

    If someone showed up pretending to be LTT and Demandred fell for the ruse. If said imposter "ran away", Demmy would have simply started unloading on the armies until he showed back up. He wanted to face LTT on his terms.

     

    Again, I think a lot of people are under the impression that Mat was going to be able to win this thing outright. That wasn't the case and Mat knew it. He was outnumbered like 3 or 4 to 1 He knew all he could do was set up to have the best possible chance to win. Mat knew right from the beginning he was going to need something extra to make it all come together.

    Mat was counting on the Horn, counting on Egwene to counter the Sharan channelers, counting on the return of the Dragons firing through gateways, counting on the return of the river to split the Trollocs where he had maneuvered them and counted on the return of the Seanchan to box those split Trollocs in and destroy them.

     

    Also, Lan did not "win" vs Demandred, he just didn't lose. It's exactly what happened when Lan faced Ryne in NS. Lan would have died if Mat hadn't have conducted that charge behind enemy lines.

     

    I don't think anyone would debate that if "The Last Battle" was written by RJ instead of BS, it would have been detailed better but I have little doubt that the majority of the basics of what was supposed to happen with the corruption of the Great Captains and Mat's strategy at Merrilor were outlined in RJ's notes.

     

    Hey, thanks for the reply. Let me respond to some of the above (remember, I qualify everything I say with "I am not an expect on Wheel of Time").

     

    First, I don't think it's a stretch to say that Demandred, with the proper motivation (whatever that might be), would pursue LTT. That seems to be all he cares about. Suppose this was worked into Mat's strategy to appear like he was losing the battle, and when all "seems lost," LTT (Logain) shows up on the battlefield for a "seeming" last ditch effort to wipe out Demnadred. It fails, LTT (Logain) pursposefully retreats. Demandred follows. Mat leads them to victory. Logain and androl kill Demandred. Bob's your uncle. Basically, my suggestion is just continuing with what was already in play: fool Demandred into thinking he was fighting LTT. But the way this was written or planned was (to me) subpar.

     

    Second, I don't think Mat could win this outright, so I agree with you. Not with Demandred both guiding the battle and doing his giant robot thing (as another poster put it, which I thought was funny).

     

    I love Lan as a character. He's got this total Cimmerian thing going on, which is awesome. And as much as Conan loves to kill wizards, I just don't see the Lan vs Demandred duel ending up like it did. Ever. Demandred should simply have dropped Lan through a gateway 1000 feet up in the sky. Or some other totally crazy trick with the power. But hey, I could possibly not have a clue what I'm talking about.

  19. Hey, I just started lurking (again) after reading the final book. Overall: I was pretty disappointed. But I'm not laying the blame on anyone. It's a very tough job to take over for another author who has tragically died. And there were a few moments that were enjoyable.

     

    Now, about the "Lan killing Demandred" thing. I'm nowhere close to an expert on these books, but I have some thoughts. Forgive me if what I say is uninformed.

     

    First, it's not just this particular sword fight, its the entire way that Demandred was handled. And we, as readers, are left to fill in the missing explanations. To me, it's painfully obvious that Lan should not have been able to beat Demandred in that fight. There's just no way. We can appear to D's supposed "madness" or "obsession" or whatever, but if we really have to appeal to these things to explain what happened, well, let's just say I think it's ridiculous to have a villain that has such a stupid flaw like this. We should expect more. That's my opinion.

     

    In fact, the first time Demandred came into contact with the foxhead medallion (the copy), he probably should have tried overwhelming it, rather than merely shrugging his shoulders and accepting it. He should have thrown everything he had at it--which may have melted the damn thing down. That would have been more interesting to me. Isn't there precedence for this? I think I remember this considered as a possibility (by elayne?). And if there is anyone that was in a position to overwhelm it, it was Demandred in the circle with that sceptre.

     

    Second, the real overarching problem is how in heck to deal with such a powerful enemy, who's sitting in a circle of 72! Throwing three (three!) sword fights at him is not the answer. The more I have thought about it, the more it seems like a tactical problem, and therefore, it is something Mat could or should have figured out. There should have been a meeting of the war leaders, discussing this very real and dire problem, with Mat coming up with a solution. There should have been an open acceptance of the fact that they were totally screwed otherwise.

     

    Mat could have suggested something like the following three points, that really no character could have denied: (1) Demandred was obviously (!) too powerful to directly confront, and (2) it was equally obvious that if he was left to wander around the battlefield, their army *should* be decimated, and (3) they needed at all costs to keep Demandred away from SG. They had two basic options open. Either just directly engage him with his army (like they stupidly did), or find a way to separate him from his army, so that the two problems could be dealt with independently (divide and conquer). So, Mat should have said something like: "look, we're all bloody dead if we don't get Demandred out of here. Logain, Demandred needs LTT. Convince him YOU are LTT. Draw him the $^*^%$ out of here, let him chase you, and take the black tower with you, and any Aes Sedai you need. All you need to do is stall him, keep him away from SG and this bloody battle we're fighting right here. Demandred is too good a general to keep him here, and too powerful. When he's gone, I'll carve up the rest of his army. But the only thing that will get him out of here is if he believes you are LTT." (I leave the luring details to another person)

     

    To me, this solution might work. And it would allow Logain to really earn his glory, as well as use the unusual Androl in a damn cool way, to help deal with Demandred (and explain why Androl didn't just dump another lava flow on this army).

     

    Thoughts?

  20. there are degrees of homophobia ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate. Again, it's the connotations of the word that make people defensive about it, but it's still pretty prevalent among hetero men, and it's something that I don't really think is insurmountable.

     

    I've never liked the term "homophobia" or "homophobe," which has always struck me as trying to sound like some sort of clinical diagnosis of mental health (or lack thereof). The wikipedia definition mentioned earlier seems pretty good, but who is to decide what an "irrational fear" is in this case?

    We examine the logic of it. If homosexuality bothers you...is there a logical reason for it? If not, then it's irrational. But 'aversion' is much easier to define.

     

    Ah, and that's part of why I suggested that it is problematic to include "irrational" in the definition. Who decides what is "irrational"? There is no agreed upon definition of "rationality." There is no way to agree upon what counts (and what does not) as a "logical reason."

    You say that as if there is no point in debating the relative logic of various positions. There are many widely-agreed-upon methods for examining the strength of arguments. Have you ever studied formal logic?

     

    I've taught logic, so I do have some understanding of it. I actually had a blind student once, and boy, let me tell you, that was a challenge! Very rewarding, though.

     

    Yes, there are many ways to examine the strength of arguments. But what we're talking about goes far beyond mere argument analysis. The term "rational" (or "irrational") is not typically included as a term of formal logic. In logic we have terms like valid, sound, fallacy, "existential quantifier," and so on. Rationality, however, is a judgment we make with respect to a person's belief, or beliefs; sometimes we refer to a person's actions or desires or feelings, and even a person can be said to be rational or irrational. Unlike the terms in formal logic--which mainly refer to the objective structure of definitions and propositions, etc.--rationality is a value judgment of a different sort. Part of why this can be tricky is that rationality seems to depend upon the structure of one's beliefs: for example, it may be rational for me to believe that God exists (based on my own experiences and things I am committed to believing) while it may not be rational for you (based on your experiences and beliefs). So rationality is more a term that belongs to epistemology, not formal logic.

     

    There is a lot more to be said about these issues. Too much. So I'll just be quick about it. (1) Showing that a person is "irrational" can be quite difficult, since this is a loaded term. And I don't think that a person can be said to be irrational simply because he or she doesn't have a fully positive reaction (either in terms of their beliefs or feelings), or even a somewhat negative reaction, to the gay community. (2) Even if you can show that a person is "irrational," this doesn't necessarily imply that he or she is therefore immoral. And (3) when we have a morally charged term, like "homophobe," we cannot assume that "irrationality" implies immorality, since this could in fact be begging the question. So I stand by my previous analysis. Your broad use of the term "homophobe" in fact seems to include people that we cannot say are irrational, as well as those who could be irrational, but are not acting immorally.

     

    No, we haven't. Homophobia means that you have a fear of homosexuality, or a strong aversion to it. There is a difference between homophobia and homophobic acts, and we should be clear on that difference rather than trying to redefine words because we don't like their connotations.

     

    I hope you are not suggesting I am trying to redefine a word because I don't like the connotations. If so, then I ask you please to consider what I have been trying to say. In fact, I have not tried to redefine any words. My point has been the scope of the word: to whom does "homophobe" apply? Who is included in this group? In other words, I am less worried about the definition than I am about how the word is used. Specifically, your use of the word to cover the vast majority of heterosexual males (as you claimed), as belonging to the same group of people that hate gay people, only differing from such haters by degree, not kind. Should we lump gay people in with child molesters, or with those who commit acts of bestiality, necrophilia, or incest, and say they only differ by a matter of degree, not kind? (obviously not)

     

    Anyway, I think I've said enough. It's been nice talking with you. I hope I've given you something to consider (and I don't mean this in a condescending way). :smile:

  21. there are degrees of homophobia ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate. Again, it's the connotations of the word that make people defensive about it, but it's still pretty prevalent among hetero men, and it's something that I don't really think is insurmountable.

     

    I've never liked the term "homophobia" or "homophobe," which has always struck me as trying to sound like some sort of clinical diagnosis of mental health (or lack thereof). The wikipedia definition mentioned earlier seems pretty good, but who is to decide what an "irrational fear" is in this case?

    We examine the logic of it. If homosexuality bothers you...is there a logical reason for it? If not, then it's irrational. But 'aversion' is much easier to define.

     

    Ah, and that's part of why I suggested that it is problematic to include "irrational" in the definition. Who decides what is "irrational"? There is no agreed upon definition of "rationality." There is no way to agree upon what counts (and what does not) as a "logical reason."

     

    Now, it is clear that we are supposed to move from "irrationality" to "morally wrong." But that also seems an illicit move. What makes the irrational aspect so difficult to agree upon is that "homophobia" implies moral failing.

     

    That is quite a range. I think it a bit extreme to hold that a person who has that "awkward feeling" differs from the one who "hates gay people" by only a matter of degree. There is obviously more than a difference of degree between two such people--one of them hates (which is a moral failing) and one of them feels awkward (which is certainly not a moral failing). Perhaps we should reserve the word "homophobe" for those cases that truly resemble the haters.

    I think it's important to recognize that they only differ by degree - at least in terms of the homophobia itself. Just because you do not hate people does not mean that you are not completely capable of causing pain, just with your casual disgust (see Luckers' comments on relating Rand's position to that of the average gay teenager's position).

     

    But I don't think they only differ by degree--they obviously don't. There is a qualitative difference between the person who feels awkward about it and the person who hates. I repeat: this is not a matter of degree.

     

    Also, your point that even if you don't hate you are still capable of causing pain is unrelated to the definition or use of the term "homophobe." Unless we are to define the term by what harm our actions do to others. But if that's the case, I have absolutely no idea what "homophobe" is supposed to mean anymore. We have lost control of the word.

     

    As I said earlier, it's okay to be a little awkward about it, and it's even more understandable with people like Brandon who have deeply-held religious beliefs about sexual morality....but if those feelings are particularly strong, then they should probably be examined, because they are essentially irrational.

     

    I'm not sure we want to go down this road (in this forum or thread). Examining the rationality or irrationality of religious beliefs is too small of a topic for us to bother with, eh? :biggrin:

  22. there are degrees of homophobia ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate. Again, it's the connotations of the word that make people defensive about it, but it's still pretty prevalent among hetero men, and it's something that I don't really think is insurmountable.

     

    I've never liked the term "homophobia" or "homophobe," which has always struck me as trying to sound like some sort of clinical diagnosis of mental health (or lack thereof). The wikipedia definition mentioned earlier seems pretty good, but who is to decide what an "irrational fear" is in this case? The problem seems to be that the word carries with it a normative element: when a person is named a "homophobe" he or she has a moral failing which ought to be rectified. It is not just an "illness," it is moral turpitude. That is the connotation of the word "homophobe." And because of this, it is not a word that ought to be bandied about. And it certainly should not be used to include such a wide degree as "ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate" (as the above quoted poster suggests). That is quite a range. I think it a bit extreme to hold that a person who has that "awkward feeling" differs from the one who "hates gay people" by only a matter of degree. There is obviously more than a difference of degree between two such people--one of them hates (which is a moral failing) and one of them feels awkward (which is certainly not a moral failing). Perhaps we should reserve the word "homophobe" for those cases that truly resemble the haters.

  23. I personally still think it seemed stupid. I couldn't believe it when Rand destroyed them. It didn't seem justified, or reasonable. It did indeed feel as though he were destroying his best weapons. The point of the OP is, I think, that they really were the best weapons he had, and to destroy your best weapons requires A LOT of CLEAR justification to the reader. The CK cannot really be compared to Sauron's Ring, people--the Ring was corrupt in itself, forged through Sauron's malice, and thus was an active force of evil on whomever possessed it. But the CK was not corrupt in this sense at all.

     

    I'm not saying that we as careful readers cannot spin a plausible psychological account for why "he had to destroy them." But it was pretty jarring when he did it, and not in a good way. More work should have been done to make clear exactly why Rand felt he needed to do this. As it was, it seemed stupid.

  24. How very strange this is. If you dislike Egwene you obviously have problems with women. If you like Tuan you obviously have no problem at all with slavery. WTH? This is fiction, people, FICTION, where you get to like bad people and societies without having it necessarily be a moral problem. Liking Tuan as a character is different from accepting slavery, or implicitly accepting moral relativism. Even in the real world--you know, the one outside of books--it is far from uncommon for us to like people who do nasty things.

     

    Do any of you like Conan? You know: the thief and murderer? You must obviously be condoning theft and murder. Did any of you like any of the characters in the Godfather? Whoa, you must be a horrible person. You shouldn't have to apologize or actually defend yourself for liking, or disliking, certain characters, because you fear being labeled immoral. And I guess that's all I have to say about that. . .

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